12 January 1999

Current Australian Touring Car Champion Craig Lowndes was guest driver for the unveiling of Australia's premier solar racing vehicle, Sunshark, at the University of Queensland Rugby Union club today.

University of Queensland Solar Racing Team project manager Darren Bell said it was a "fantastic coup" to have Craig attending the unveiling.

"Craig's support of our vehicle SunShark continues the long tradition of touring car drivers' involvement in solar racing," he said.

In 1982 Larry Perkins drove with solar pioneer Hans Tholstrup across Australia in the solar car Quiet Achiever. That effort provided the impetus for the development of the world's premier solar racing event, the World Solar Challenge from Darwin to Adelaide.

Currently number one in its class, SunShark has been extensively redeveloped for the Sydney to Melbourne CitiPower Sunrace this month.

This includes a lighter, stronger top shell, which will house the vehicle's new solar cells. The new cells are rated at 16.5 per cent efficient and have been encapsulated using a special process to maximise their light-gathering capabilities.

A more efficient electrical system will complement the new array. And a revolutionary in-wheel electric motor will reinforce SunShark's competitiveness.

The team's strategists estimate SunShark should reach speeds of up to 120 km/h during the SunRace.

The 1790 kilometre event, which begins at The Rocks in Sydney on January 17, will see a field of 18 solar and electric vehicles battle it out through some of Australia's most rugged and scenic country.

Race organisers anticipate more than seven million spectators will see the race as it makes its way through Canberra, Wagga Wagga, Hay Mildura, Swan Hill, and Bendigo before finishing in Melbourne on January 23.

In 1996, SunShark took class honours and was the first Australian finisher in the Darwin to Adelaide World Solar Challenge. The team placed fifth overall in the 3010 kilometre race.

SunShark also won its class and took fifth place in the 1997 World Solar Car Rallye in Japan.

Immediately upon returning from the CitiPower Sunrace SunShark will be on display for the 1999 Brisbane International Motor Show.

Motoring enthusiasts and industry leaders will be able to look over the award-winning vehicle and team members will be on hand to answer questions and demonstrate some of the vehicle's advanced features.

The University of Queensland Solar Racing Team will be departing Brisbane on Thursday January 14 for the Sunrace.

For further information contact SunShark publicity co-ordinator Steve Goodwin, telephone (07) 3365-3771 or 0412 635 194.